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Information and resources around physical therapy and COVID-19 continue to develop. Here's what we're recommending. (April 21 update)

Information and resources around physical therapy and COVID-19 continue to develop. Here's what we're recommending. (April 21 update)

While APTA continues to point PTs, PTAs, and physical therapy students to the latest CDC guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the association and other groups are creating more refined guidance related to specific practice settings and situations. Here are recommended resources to date.

Outpatient (Added April 21)
Here's a recap of resources APTA has developed to help outpatient practices.

Home Health (Added April 14)
HPSO, APTA's official provider of professional liability insurance for members, has created a resource that emphasizes the importance of CDC guidance and PT professional judgment, but dives deeper into considerations that need to be weighed when considering home health physical therapy — particularly during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Nursing Homes (Added April 6)
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued new recommendations for nursing homes around the COVID-19 pandemic that urge states to attend to the personal protection equipment needs of long-term care facilities, and press nursing homes to establish separate staff teams for COVID-19-positive residents. The recommendations also include universal testing in the facilities and use of PPE "to the extent PPE is available."

Physical Therapist Management of Patients With Diagnosed or Suspected COVID-19 (Updated April 8)
This APTA resource provides perspectives on issues such as when a PT should tell patients not to come in for their outpatient PT visits, as well as management of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in inpatient facilities, home health settings, experiencing post-intensive care syndrome, and in need of wound care. The guidance also includes information on preparation of physical space to reduce infection risk, use of PPE, and helping patients to stay active while at home.

Pediatric Physical Therapy
Physical therapist services to the pediatric population may have special considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic. APTA put together this information for PTs and PTAs who manage these patients, particularly in school settings. Topics include school closings and IEP services, remote learning, and a discussion of factors that need to be considered in providing pediatric physical therapy via telehealth.

Acute Hospital Physical Therapy
A new set of recommendations for provision of physical therapist services related to COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting acknowledges the necessity of involvement of PTs well-trained in respiratory physical therapy, but cautions that facilities should be judicious in their use. The recommendations have already been endorsed by APTA, its Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, and the APTA Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy, albeit with a few caveats that not all of the Australia-based guidance will apply in the U.S.

Long-Term Care Facilities
The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living released a joint document focused on changes to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Recommended changes to be considered by LTC facilities include discontinuation of group and concurrent therapy, delivery of therapy in resident rooms rather than therapy gyms, and the use of social distancing "as practicable." AHCA and NCAL also advise against therapists moving between buildings if COVID-19 is discovered in one building.

Wound Care
The Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders, a group that includes APTA, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Amputee Coalition, and others, issued a statement countering hospital decisions to shut down outpatient-based wound care departments as "non-essential" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dementia Caregivers
The Alzheimer’s Association, in collaboration with Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy and others, developed tips for dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based settings.

AHCA/NCAL: Making Decisions on Essential Staff Entering Your Building
The guidance helps nursing facilities assess the risks versus benefits in working with various essential services such as rehabilitation therapy, labs, and portable x-ray.

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